NEW YORK, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The costs of a masters degree in business and the payoff is shifting and not to a graduate's advantage, students and U.S. career specialists say.
"It was a really great program. But the job part has been atrocious," said Steve Vonderweidt, a recent MBA graduate from University of Louisville, who still has the same social service administration job he did before he earned his business degree in 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Data indicates the cost of a masters in business administration has soared in recent years while salaries have either stalled or fallen.
The Graduate Management Administration Council reported the median salary for the first job after earning an MBA was little changed from 2008 to 2011. The Journal's analysis done with help from PayScale.com found median pay for new graduates in 2012 was 53,900, a drop of 4.6 percent from 2007-2008.
The study looked at 186 schools and found pay had dropped for new graduates at 62 percent of them.
Student loan debt, meanwhile, jumped from an average of $55,594 in 2007 to $81,758 in 2010.
The economy is partly to blame, as "some of those companies would hire today barely in the single-digits," said Mark Peterson, president of the MBA Career Services Council, referring to companies that hired in double and triple digits in years past.
But partly to blame is also the sudden jump in the number of MBA degrees earned in recent years.
In the 2010-11 academic year, 126,214 MBAs were awarded, a 74 percent increase compared with 2000-01.
The explanation for the increase was the economic downturn that forces workers to consider going back to school, the availability of online degree programs and changes in established programs.
"An MBA is a club that is now not exclusive. You should not assume that this less exclusive club is going to confer the same benefits," said Brooks Holtom, a management professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.